Cesium has created a way for construction sites to collect and channel their visual data so that it can be useful for keeping tabs on a construction project’s progress. And now it has a partnership with construction equipment manufacturer Komatsu.
Cesium collects data at the edge of a network from a variety of sources, including flying drones, construction vehicles with cameras, and ground robots outfitted with cameras. It turns that data into 3D Tiles, a format for visualizing 3D data, and transfers that to the cloud. The user can see a 3D rendered map of the data and view it from any angle.
Viewing the data with Komatsu’s Smart Construction Dashboard can uncover details such as how much dirt was moved from a construction site in a day or the volume of construction materials available at the site, said Bonnie Bogle, chief operating officer at Philadelphia-based Cesium, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“We’re really setting ourselves apart by ingesting all the data that’s coming in from a variety of different sources and making it easily shareable and measurable in one place on the web for construction users, whether that be the project manager at the site or the individual people who are actually working on the site,” Bogle said.
Gabby Getz, a 3D graphics expert at Cesium, explained in an interview that drones take pictures of a site from every angle. Then, using photogrammetry technology, Cesium can piece together a 3D model of the site. It can also identify different features, such as piles of dirt or sand, or stacks of lumber or iron beams.
“We can construct a massive 3D model that represents what the site looks like,” Getz said. “You can see where the construction machinery is via GPS, and then combine that to get a big picture of the site.”
Komatsu’s latest suite of Smart Construction software will include Cesium’s 3D visualization and geospatial data. Rod Schrader, CEO of Komatsu’s North American operations, said in a statement that the tech will bring a new era of innovation in the construction industry, with the marriage of 3D data visualization, computer graphics, and open source software.
Cesium built the company’s Smart Construction dashboard, which enables users to monitor a construction site from anywhere in the world, see how it changes over time, and compare architectural plans with real-world data. It is compatible with different types of data — collected from sensors on individual construction machines, drone surveys, or computer generated files like BIM/CAD models — allowing users to visualize them all in a single scene within a web browser, as well as calculate precise measurements for cut and fill, slope, and contours.
Collecting data from people and machines — and connecting all of it across an open platform — optimizes processes and delivers insights that will enable customers to make data-driven decisions. And processing that data at the edge, where the original data is created, is more efficient in terms of using available computing power, storage, and bandwidth, Bogle said.
The technology came from the aerospace and satellite industry, and Cesium spun out of that industry in order to take the technology into new markets such as construction. The tech can keep millimeter-level accuracy while tracking satellites in complex orbits.
Big construction companies can use the software to keep track of all of their sites, helping them understand where they need to shift materials or personnel, Bogle said.
“You can see what’s ahead of schedule and what’s not,” Bogle said.
Cesium has 23 employees and it has raised $5 million. Rivals include big construction machinery makers such as John Deere and Cat.